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The Rivers and Beacon-Hills of Gondor

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The Rivers and Beacon-Hills of Gondor is a historical-etymological essay written by J. R. R. Tolkien sometime after June 1969.

This essay has never been published in its entirety, although parts of it were published in Unfinished Tales, and the remaining parts were published in the periodical Vinyar Tengwar, issue number 42 in 2001. The Vinyar Tengwar article was based on a version intended for publication by Christopher Tolkien in The Peoples of Middle-earth but not included owing to space constraints, although it is mentioned in the book.[1]

According to Christopher Tolkien, the origin of the essay lay in a letter from Paul Bibire to Tolkien, dated 16 June 1969, inquiring whether the River Glanduin is the same as the Swanfleet.[citation needed] Tolkien replied on 30 June, stating that the Swanfleet is the same as the Glanduin, although the former name is applied only to the upper course of the river. Tolkien then decided to embark on a comprehensive essay not only on the Rivers of Gondor, but also on the Beacon-hills of Gondor mentioned in The Return of the King.[citation needed]

As with many of his works, Tolkien never finished the essay, abandoning it in the middle of the discussion of the beacon-hill Halifirien. It seems that it was at this point that Tolkien decided to introduce the idea of having the tomb of Elendil in Halifirien, which became an essential element in the work "Cirion and Eorl".[citation needed]

The essay is notable for presenting a discussion of Eldarin numerals.[2]


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  1. "Tolkien's Languages & Alphabets - Vinyar Tengwar 42". TolkienBooks.net.
  2. Hostetter, Carl (2006). "Elvish Compositions and Grammars". In Drout, Michael D. C. J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 155–159. ISBN 0-415-96942-5. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png


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